23 Jul No increase in deportations from Thai camps, says UNHCR

Written by Portia Larlee Published in Refugees Read 7328 times
 Residents of the Mae La refugee camp in Thailand near the border with Myanmar, in a file photo taken on January 29, 2012. Photo: Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/AFP

There has been no increase in deportations of Myanmar refugees from camps in Thailand since restrictions began being enforced on their movement in late June, the United Nations refugee agency told Mizzima on July 23.

"We're monitoring the situation; based on current information we have not seen any changes on this front," UNHCR spokesperson Vivian Tan told Mizzima in an email from the agency's Bangkok office.

Ms Tan was responding to comments by a Thai official that refugees caught outside the camps would be considered illegal migrants and liable for deportation.

"We will process them according to the law by sending them to the police and they will be pushed back," Preeda Foongtrakulchai, a district official in Thailand's Tak Province, was quoted as saying in a Thomson Reuters Foundation report on July 21.

Head-counts that the Thai authorities began in the three refugee camps in Tak Province in early July had created concern among refugees that preparations were being made to repatriate them.

A decision by the Thai authorities to enforce a curfew and long-standing restrictions on movement outside the nine camps along the border since late June had added to the concerns of the 120,000 Myanmar refugees in the camps.

A teacher at Mae La camp in Tak Province said a head-count that began there on July 21 was expected to finish at the end of the month.

“I am not sure what will happen to the refugees who are not included in the head-count and found outside the camp,” said the teacher, who requested anonymity.

Mae La is the biggest of the camps, with more than 40,000 refugees.

Last modified on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 19:43